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Guidance on recording of customer telephone calls updated

guidance on recording of customer telephone callsThe Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada recently updated its information and guidance on recording of customer telephone calls to bring it up to date, make it web-friendly and responsive for user feedback. As stated in the guide, organizations record customer telephone calls for a variety of reasons, such as ensuring quality of customer service, dispute resolution or training/development of staff. However, these recordings are subject to the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) and involve the collection of personal information and therefore must be handled appropriately and according to the law.

The OPC guide outlines what individuals can expect and how businesses subject to PIPEDA can comply. For those not subject to PIPEDA, the guidelines should be used as best practices. The guide applies whether the customer or the organization initiates the call. Businesses contracting out call centre, telemarketing and similar services must ensure that these third parties also follow the rules.

In this update, the OPC has revised the section How to record a customer call while respecting privacy law – in particular with respect to ensuring customer consent is meaningful.

Here’s a brief overview of some of the common guidelines to comply with PIPEDA when recording customer calls:

  • Your recording must be done for a specified purpose. The organization must be clear about the purposes; be specific and state all purposes for the recording. There are a number of ways you can inform the individual of the purposes for the recording – verbally, by pressing a number on the keypad (in the case of automated messages) or with clear messages on monthly statements.
  • The purposes for the recording must meet the reasonable person test.
  • You must inform the individual that the call may be recorded and make a reasonable effort to ensure that the individual understands the purposes for the recorded information and how it will be used. Ensure that the individual is informed that the conversation is being recorded at the beginning of the call. Some of the best ways to do this is to have an automated recording set up to inform the individual they’re being recorded.
  • Recording must only take place if you have the individual’s consent. If the individual proceeds after learning that the conversation is going to be recorded then there is implied consent on the individual’s behalf.
  • Any information collected must only be used for the purposes already specified to the individual.

If the caller objects to the recording, the organization should provide the caller with meaningful alternatives. Some of these alternatives could include not taping the call; visiting a retail outlet; writing a letter; or, conducting the transaction over the Internet.

Organizations must ensure they comply with all other provisions of PIPEDA with respect to matters such as safeguards, access, retention and disposal.

The guide can be accessed here.

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Yosie Saint-Cyr, LL.B., Managing Editor

Managing Editor at First Reference
Yosie Saint-Cyr, LL.B., is a trained lawyer called to the Quebec bar in 1988 and is still a member in good standing. She practised business, employment and labour law until 1999. For over 18 years, Yosie has been the Managing Editor of the following publications, Human Resources Advisor, Human Resources PolicyPro, HRinfodesk and Accessibility Standards PolicyPro from First Reference. Read more
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